Located in the heart of downtown Gatlinburg with mountain views and 70 forested acres of fun and relaxation, Anakeesta is a mountain playground for all ages.
There is a zip line adventure, gem mining, a personal roller coaster, treehouses, garden walks and a new splash pad. Among the trees are wonderful spots for selfies, viewing the scenery, watching downtown Gatlinburg. And food – from barbecue to southern foods with a view from the top.
Anakeesta is a Cherokee word referring to high ground, literally meaning “the place of the balsams.” Balsam forests are found at our highest elevations in the Smoky Mountains.
Bob and Karen Bentz and their family own the Anakeesta land and had a vision toward “environmental stewardship of the property encouraging a family oriented mountaintop experience in the Smokies with a promise to maintain the authenticity, heritage and natural beauty of the land.” The family chose the name Anakeesta to capture the authentic Smokies heritage.
To start your day of fun, buy tickets online, then take the scenic open chairlift or the enclosed Chondola from Gatlinburg up the mountain to Anakeesta – you can’t drive yourself.
If ziplining is on your mind, choose a time online and make sure to the zipline entry 30 minutes prior to your scheduled run. Anakeesta recommends zipline guests arrive at the Chondala 1.5 hours before the zip time.
Anakeesta’s Dueling Zipline Adventure has three zips that offer beautiful views of the Smokies while zipping down side-by-side with a friend, partner, spouse. Along the way, are two challenge stations where guests can choose to rappel off platforms in a controlled. End the journey via a short downhill path to the Chondola mid-station and ride the Chondola back to the summit of Anakeesta.
Dress appropriately for weather. Comfortable clothes are recommended. Rain in the Smokies can come and go very quickly so wear clothes you don’t mind getting a little wet.
Everyone must wear closed-toed shoes.
Bring cameras, GoPro’s, and phones at your own risk. Photos are taken along the way and are available for purchase after the trip. No selfie sticks.
Glasses and sunglasses can be worn – a heavy strap is recommended.
Necessary medication such as inhalers, nitroglycerin pills, or Epi-pens.
Long hair should be tied back.
2. Rail Runner
Jump on the Rail Runner – a personal roller coaster on a single rail. The exhilarating ride begins with 1,600 feet of downhill twists and turns and ends with a scenic uphill ride back to the top of Anakeesta Mountain. With a 400 ft. elevation change and speeds of 25 mph, the coaster is the first one of its kind in the U.S.
Ride solo or tandem with a small child. Rail Runner carts feature back and headrests for a comfortable and safe ride. AND you set the speed on the ride with a controller break.
More adventure awaits as you stroll along the 16-bridge Treetop Skywalk.
“The Treetop Skywalk is the longest tree-based bridge in North America. Guests walk more than 800 feet along a spectacular series of skybridges suspended 50-60 feet in the air. … Experience what it feels like to be a bird in the treetops. Keep a sharp eye, you may spot a bear on the forest floor below or a woodpecker nearby.”
Climb the new AnaVista Tower and enjoy 360-degree views from downtown Gatlinburg’s highest point. Guests climb 78 steps to a large observation platform atop the tower. From the top deck, see views as far as Kentucky. Interpretive signs identify mountain ranges and peaks and two glass-panel floors allow guests to peer down into the garden 60 feet below.
Walk the meandering pathways in the Vista Gardens, a multi-sensory experience with botanical beauty, whimsical sculptures, musical instruments and scenic overlooks.
TreeVenture Challenge course and BearVenture play area – ropes and log adventure course – are located in Vista Gardens. “Anakeesta’s newest treehouse adventure adds more outdoor fun and imaginative play for families. Climb, swing, crawl and slide your way through three levels of play in the interactive treehouses. Six netted bridges and three tree houses offer a different challenge to delight and thrill. “Climb to the top to enjoy the views from above then slide to the bottom level to begin the fun all over again.”
Find the picturesque Heart Twigloo that frames Mt. LeConte – the third highest mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains at 6,593 feet.
4. Gem Mining!
At some point during the day, stop by and find your treasure at Anakeesta Gem Mining. An interactive waterfall and sluice gate let children of all ages to search for a special gemstone or fossil. Gem mining is located at the beginning of the Treetop Skywalk and adjacent to the Children’s Treehouse Village Adventure.
Anakeesta’s new Splash Pad is a Tennessee themed waterfall with woodland creatures spouting water and jetted elements.
Firefly Village is another adventure – “a whimsical town in the sky with access to quaint shopping and dining, fire pit and breathtaking views.”
“Enjoy treehouse-themed shopping and dining while taking in the numerous scenic overlooks and the nearly 360-degree view of the surrounding mountain range, including Mt. LeConte as well as the extraordinary views of sparkling downtown Gatlinburg.
For a more subdued visit, take in the scenic views of the Smokies and Downtown Gatlinburg by meandering trails in the lush botanical Vista Gardens Walk. Learn about the history and nature of Anakeesta at the Memorial Forest Walk and enjoy the fire circle while listening to storytellers or live music.
Find a spot to enjoy your day and stay to watch the sunset over the Great Smoky Mountains – perhaps in a rocking chair or a cozy chair around the firepits.
See more Anakeesta gallery photos here.
7. Eat, enjoy cocktails
At the top of Anakeesta is The Bar at the Top of the World, part of The Cliff Top Grill & Bar.
Here, visitors take in the beautiful scenery, have a beer or a cocktail – try Karen’s Sweet Tea, and maybe snack such as the southern favorite Fried Green Tomatoes or a ½ pound char-grilled Smoky Mountain burger or BBQ Pork Mac & Cheese Bowl – yum! Check out the rest of the menu.
Opening soon is Anakeesta’s Smokehouse Barbecue and Brewery, where visitors will be able to walk up to the bar for a great bear on tap and sit around the firepits watching the mountains and the people.
Kephart Café is another eatery expected to open this fall at Anakeesta. Named after the acclaimed “Father of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park,” Kephart Cafe will offer walk up dining for gourmet hot dogs or flatbread pizza on the go.
Check their website for opening updates.
Is Dessert on your mind? How about some Pie?
At Pearl’s Pies in the Sky, “satisfy your sweet tooth with delicious homemade fried pies, cookies and brownies.” Top off your pie with hand-scooped ice cream or have a shake on a warm day, hot chocolate or signature wassail on a cold day.
Before you go in 2020
FACE MASKS: Per new mandates set forth by Sevier County officials, masks are required in all indoor facilities. As an outdoor theme park, guests are strongly encouraged, but not required to wear masks to enjoy all of Anakeesta’s outdoor attractions. For all indoor activities, Anakeesta requires masks – including in all indoor retail shops, restrooms, and Pearls Pie in the Sky ice cream shop. This mandate is not required for children twelve (12) years of age or younger, someone who has trouble breathing due to an underlying health condition, someone with conditions or disabilities that prevent them from wearing a face covering, or while actively eating or drinking. Anakeesta has masks available for purchase on the mountain.
SOCIAL DISTANCING: Sasquatch themed social distancing signs guide guests throughout the park to aid with social distancing.
HAND SANITIZERS: Free hand sanitizing stations can be found throughout the park
Sanitizing, cleaning, social distanced seating, cell-phone calls for tables to discourage large-group gather all on in place. For more park policies and cleaning procedures.
Book your stay now with American Patriot Getaways
After your adventure at Anakeesta, head back to a fantastic mountain cabin for more play, movie time, dinner outside, cocktails on the log cabin deck or bubbles in the hot tub.
Whether it’s your first visit to the Smokies or your fiftieth, American Patriot Getaways has a cabin for you. From studio-style economy cabins to 13-bedroom palatial chalets, any family or group can be accommodated in our cabins. There are movie theater cabins, cabins with swimming pools, secluded cabins, cabins with multiple kitchens and cabins with game rooms.
Book a cabin close to the Parkway and you won’t miss any Gatlinburg fun. Book online using our website, or give our friendly Reservation staff a call at 800-204-5169 to get started planning your trip to Anakeesta and the Great Smoky Mountains.